Funding for this project was provided by Lawton Community Foundation, McMahon Foundation, National Film Preservation Foundation, Oklahoma City University and Oklahoma Historical Society.
The project also is supported by the Friends of the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives and the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center.
“The first time I heard about ‘The Daughter of Dawn' was when we published an article by Leo Kelley in the Chronicles of Oklahoma about the making of this movie in the Wichita Mountains with about 300 Kiowas and Comanches,” said Bob Blackburn, the executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. “We knew they had brought their own material culture with them; we knew the movie had been made.”
Years later, Brian Hearn, film curator at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, received a call from a private investigator in North Carolina who thought he had a copy of the film, “The Daughter of Dawn.” He wanted to sell it. Hearn contacted the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Negotiations with the owner went on for a period of months, Blackburn said. Then, they were able to get funding from the Lawton Community Foundation and the McMahon Foundation and purchased it.
“When we got the box there were only five of the six reels,” Blackburn said, “and we knew it had been a six-reel film. We could not show it, it was on nitrate 35 mm.”
Preserving the film
The historical society received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation that funded the restoration process.
It was conserved by the Film Technology Lab in Hollywood.
With the intertitles of every scene added, all six reels were included. The movie was transferred to 35 mm film, DVD and other media formats. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered to house the delicate silver nitrate film, and it was transferred to the academy's vault in 2007.
Blackburn said they decided they wanted a full symphonic score. The original music composition is by David Yeagley. The score is performed by the Oklahoma City University Orchestra. Ben Nilles is the conductor, John Cross is the music editor, Mark Parker is the Dean of the School of Music and Robert Henry, the OCU President, helped Blackburn make this possible.